I knew that becoming a mom would change me in many ways. I knew that my life would change, how I viewed the world would change, and even the way that I loved would change. The one thing that I never thought would change due to my child was my view of nutrition and how we eat.
Growing up I lived in a fairly strict household when it came to food. At the time I hated it, today I think it is one of the many things that my parents did that make me who I am today and I thank them for it. I was the skinny, picky kid who literally ate nothing. My favorite food was macaroni and cheese with hot dogs and everything else, yes I mean EVERYTHING else, was chopped liver as far as I was concerned. Despite this my parent were adamant that I would not grow up only eating macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. There were many things that my parents taught me that I still make sure to do to this day. The top three are:
Despite being very thin and a horrible eater my parents never ever commented to me about my weight. They never blamed me or used it as a way to guilt me into eating. Yet growing up I distinctly remember other parents talking to their daughters, my childhood friends, in this way. I remember one time vividly where one mom actually would tell her daughter that she was eating too much and it was her fault that she was heavy. Yet this was the same household that I would beg my parents to let me go spend the night because they were allowed to eat Lucky Charms for breakfast.
Now being a parent, as well as a nutritionist, and thinking back on these times I never realized how detrimental these words probably were to that friend and how much it affects her today as an adult. The way we talk to our kids about food and the way we teach our kids how to eat starts from day one. That mom had probably been telling her things like that for many years, she was enforcing in her this idea that food, all food, will make you fat, ugly, unhealthy, etc. We all act like this fight with body image and health is a new thing but it has been around for many many years. Lucky for us, today we have a better grasp on how we should talk about food and body image to our children.
One of the first things I want to point out here is that the relationship that WE have with food directly affects and influences the relationship our children have with food. It has been shown that if your kids see you eating healthy, nutritious foods they are more likely to eat those foods as they get older. Just the other day I was with my cousin and she asked her daughter what she wanted for lunch and her daughter said “a salad with chicken.” I was blown away, I looked at my cousin and asked her “would you have ever asked for that at her age, cause I know I wouldn’t have” and my cousin said “oh gosh no.” I know for a fact that my cousin has raised her kids eating a wide ranging diet with many healthy, nutritious foods and already at 7 my little cousin is asking for salads for a meal, and eating it all.
My next point may be a slightly controversial one, but needs to be said nonetheless. If we blame our children for the way that they eat we are creating a monster. We should 100% be blaming ourselves if our kids eat lucky charms for breakfast and cookies for lunch. We buy them their food, we are in charge of our children until they are 18 years old, we need to take responsibility from the get go. If your 7/8/9/10 year old isn’t eating well, maybe reconsider how you are eating, and think about ways that you can change yourself to be a better role model for your child.
My last point is a HUGE one. We should never, ever, ever tell our children they are fat, pigs, chubby. And we should never ever ever say it in relation to food. Granted, we often call my son a little chunker, or something along those lines, but it is 100% in a loving manner and it is because we LOVE his rolls. 18 month old's should be chubby with sweet little rolls, they are growing constantly and they need all of that to grow. My son has grown 4 or 5 inches in the last 6 months! He goes from having a sweet little belly to none, to having one again every other month. By no means does this mean if your kid isn’t roll filled something is wrong with them, every kid, heck every person, is different and has a different body type and that is just that. And remember too that many kids don’t lose those sweet rolls until they hit puberty or even after.
The main point that I am trying to make with all of this is that parents should start thinking a little bit more about how food is viewed, eaten, and talked about in there house. Remember that everything with kids is monkey see, monkey do. We are their role models, we are their mentors, we are their teachers, and often times we are their heros.
*******If you feel that you need help with eating better and how to teach your kids how to have a healthy relationship with food please contact me. If you feel that you or someone you know's relationship with food is to a point that it affects yours or their daily life and mental well being PLEASE CONTACT ME and I will put you in contact with some amazing professionals, along with myself, who can help you.********